Some parties just feel like they’ll never wrap up — and this is the story of one that didn’t.
How does it end?
Well, that’s actually up to you.
“Ghost Party,” an upcoming original, immersive production by the Seattle-based performance group Dacha, is a shifting, shivery shindig boasting a bevy of Bainbridge connections, seasonally the perfect choice for a night of theater — minus the stage.
Previous Dacha outings on the island have included two Shakespeare Dice shows (“Twelfth Night, or What You Will” and “Hamlet”) and, along with Bainbridge’s own Lesser-Known Players, an immersive, avant-garde take on a freshly translated version of “The Snow Queen,” and a four-day, two-show science-themed festival of “Tesla Ex Machina” and “Curie Me Away!”
For Halloween, the group is having a very different kind of party.
You live, you die, you move on. Or so it’s supposed to go. But when an unlucky subset of the dead have been reliving the same ill-fated party over and over for decades, it’s up to you to try find a way to change their fates.
In “Ghost Party,” the audience will explore a mysterious gala of lost souls and interact with the macabre manor’s diverse inhabitants. You might dive deep into one ghost’s tragic past and find a way to set them free, or you might try and meet as many spirits as you can. There’s no wrong answer.
But be careful, upsetting the delicate balance these poor spirits have been in for centuries may have consequences for both the dead and the living.
The show is fully immersive, explained production manager, and Bainbridge Performing Arts educational department staffer, Kate Drummond. The audience will have the opportunity to explore the party and autonomously interact with the ghostly attendees (the show’s cast is 18 actors strong) as they attempt to free these souls.
“What we really wanted to do was find a way to empower the audience to genuinely try a bunch of different things, make mistakes, break the play a little bit, so that when they ultimately come to a conclusion they really feel like they did that,” Drummond said.
“[The partiers] don’t know they’re ghosts and that they’re reliving this party over and over again,” she added. “So when the audience gets there they will see and they will be told, the same 10 minutes of the party is going to repeat five times and they are able to, within that party, go anywhere they want, talk to anyone, but they are encouraged to each time try something different.”
The show is recommended for those 13 and older, but everyone attending is encouraged to harness their inner child and come ready to play.
“We are definitely on the dramatic side as far as how much the audience is autonomous and how much power they’re given,” Drummond said. “The show will genuinely be very, very different night to night, depending on who comes and what choices they make.”
There’s no pressure, though. It is, after all, a fun night of theater.
“We try to make clear at the beginning and through the way that we interact with the audience there is no wrong answer,” Drummond said. “There’s no way to break the play. There’s no agenda. We are genuinely interested in what are you going to do.”
Additional Bainbridge connections include islander cast member Nobelle Wilkinson-Bennett and the director, Nathan Whitehouse, a former member of The EDGE Improv.
“We stole him,” Drummond laughed. “We’re sorry.”
Nobelle, 13, an eighth-grader at Woodward Middle School and a Dacha apprentice company member, said the immersive nature of the show was what drew her to it.
“The audience shapes the entire end of the plot, it could go one way or another,” she said. “It makes it new and fresh every time and it really, as an actor, it opened new windows for me because you have to explore your character so much and you have to know your character inside-out so you know what they’d do in a situation.”
Though plot specifics are being carefully guarded, Nobelle did give a brief description of her ghostly character.
“I am the restaurant owner’s daughter,” she said. “My name is Natalie and my middle name is Joy and I hate it when people call me Nat. I’m all about business and I’m very, very smart. We are very different people and it’s very fun to play her.”
To reticent participants, Nobelle advised giving immersive theater a shot. There is, she said, no way to go wrong.
“If you don’t want to participate you don’t have to,” she said. “Also, if you don’t want to be in a crowd or with the audience the whole time, I’m positive that there will be a character sitting alone and you can just have a conversation with them and learn some things about them. Or, you can stay in the group and go with people and learn new things. Or you can just run around and be crazy and be more extroverted. But there’s really a place for everybody. I think everyone is going to feel included and have a good time.”
“Ghost Party” also features an eerily perfect venue: the Russian Community Center in Capitol Hill (704 19th Ave. East), which, Drummond said, is atmospheric to say the least.
“I think there are real ghosts there,” she said. “But that’s OK, hopefully they don’t mind us doing the play.
“It’s a big draw, or it is the reason you will never go.”
Tickets for “Ghost Party,” which runs Oct. 20-22, Oct. 24, Oct. 27-28, Oct. 31 and Nov. 3-4, are on sale now via www.brownpapertickets.com (event #3618785). The cost is $15 to $25 per person.
Visit www.dachatheatre.com/ghostparty.html to learn more.